Saving a Historic Landmark
In 1858, Acworth had been established as a watering stop for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, but would not be incorporated until 1860. That year, Nathan Smith, an established evangelist, founded the Acworth Christian Church, which originally was located on Mitchell Hill. Smith was one of the first schoolmasters in Acworth, and the first worshipful master of the Acworth Masonic Lodge.
The church thrived until the Civil War, when the building was dismantled and used as shanties for Union soldiers. The church re-established in 1875 at its current location on Northside Drive. Tragedy struck again in 1899, when a fire destroyed the church. Nathan Smith died that same year, so he never got to enjoy the rebuilt church, which opened its doors in 1901.
The church has been a fixture in Acworth ever since, and can be seen from Main Street and the downtown area. The church’s original brick exterior was covered by stucco in the 1980s.
The congregation of the church has dwindled over the years, and lack of funds has resulted in the building’s deterioration. A leaking roof, crumbling foundation and broken windows were among the long list of needed renovations that seemed too daunting. So, the church members partnered with the Save Acworth History Foundation (SAHF) last year to find a way to save the building.
“Much of Acworth has undergone revitalization, so seeing the sad state of the church was heartbreaking,” said Mack Turner, president SAHF. “Our group got involved to see if there was anything we could do to change that. The Christian Church is such a significant part of Acworth history.”
The first step was to sell the church’s former parsonage, which had been used as a rental house in recent years. This raised enough funds to get started on the major repairs needed. SAHF began a fundraising effort and helped get the property on the watchlist of Cobb Landmarks.
“This is probably one of the biggest volunteer projects in the history of Acworth, and we are very thankful for the generosity of our donors. But, additional funds are still needed,” Turner said.
“I believe that, if there’s ever a time when we, for any reason, can’t ride down Main Street and see the silhouette of this church rise above the tracks, we will be a poorer place,” said SAHF Vice President Betsey Brown, who grew up attending the church and was married there.
There are several ways to donate to help save the Acworth Christian Church. Checks can be written to ACC Restoration Fund and mailed to 4857 N. Main St., Acworth, GA 30101, or dropped off at the Acworth Bookstore. Contributions also can be made through the Acworth Christian Church Restoration Fund’s Go Fund Me page, or at any Regions Bank.
– Becca Kienel. a resident of the Collins Avenue Historic District. She serves as treasurer of the Save Acworth History Foundation.